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Talking The Talk, Walking The Walk

I skipped Saturday's debates, but I did catch most of the audio when NPR re-aired it Sunday afternoon and watched a bit of Sunday's Republican debate. And as I studied this high-concentration of presidential politics, a single theme bubbled up to me:

The Republicans, as a general rule, argued about what each had done.

The Democrats, as a general rule, argued about what each had said.

Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee squabbled about who had done what about taxes in their home states when they were governors. Rudy Giuliani touted his accomplishments in eight years of leading New York City. John McCain talked about commanding a fighter wing in the Navy.

On the Democratic side, they don't really have long histories of accomplishments to tout. Hillary has claimed extensive government experience, but never held a security clearance during her husband's administration -- and her bravest moment was a flight into a "war zone" -- one so dangerous she only felt safe if she traveled with her daughter, Sheryl Crowe, and Sinbad. John Edwards, when you boil it down, is a one-term senator who would not have been re-elected and a failed vice-presidential candidate. Replace "made his fortune off the misery and suffering of others" with "family money," and he's this generation's Dan Quayle. And Barack Obama is a first-term Senator with absolutely zero accomplishments beyond exploiting his charisma to keep getting to higher and higher office.

The sole exceptions to this seem to be Bill Richardson, who has considerable executive experience (ambassador, cabinet secretary, and governor), and Fred Thompson, a Senator who is also an accomplished lawyer, prosecutor, and actor.

I thought that one factor might be that the Democrats have only had one president in the last 28 years (albeit for two terms), but that doesn't seem to be a big factor. Giuliani got an early leg up from the Reagan administration, but Huckabee and Romney rose on their own without any help from the White House.

And I'm not quite certain what it all means, but it strikes me as somehow relevant that the clear majority of the frontrunning candidates on one side have a history of accomplishments, while the others only have a list of promises and ideas.


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Comments (34)

sorry to quibble, but unlik... (Below threshold)

sorry to quibble, but unlike Edwards, Quayle did win re-election to the Senate (in 1986).

Fwiw, I don't care as much about what they've done as what they want to do as President, and their experience (or lack thereof) is but a guide to judging their sincerity and ability to deliver on their promises. thus, someone like Romney, who didn't support tax cuts earlier, isn't someone I want to trust on that regard, while Obama, for all his talk about being the 'agent of change', has just enough experience to show me he's just another hard left liberal.

Well done is better than we... (Below threshold)
yoyo:

Well done is better than well said, eh?

Actually nobody can touch R... (Below threshold)
McLovin:

Actually nobody can touch Rudy's experience and execution of policy and accomplishemnt at every level of govornment he has been in.
I trust him because I know what he has done.

The Democratic party has al... (Below threshold)

The Democratic party has always been about ideas - not implementations. Ideas sound good - implementation can be messy and fraught with mistakes. Ideas get you elected - implementation, and the solving of the problem you got elected for, removes perfectly good election material.

Democrats talk. Republicans do. They may screw up, they may go down the wrong path occasionally, but they at least are aware that ideas without the intent to implement them are worthless.

In the end - just talking about ideas aren't enough.

And Barack Obama is a fi... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

And Barack Obama is a first-term Senator with absolutely zero accomplishments beyond exploiting his charisma to keep getting to higher and higher office.
Jay Tea

Just cause you're uninformed, Jay, doesn't mean we all are.

Here are some of Obama's "zero accomplishments".

You do realize he was a first-term senator in the minority, how much do you think could really accomplish and how much attention did you expect him to receive?

It's not like Obama really ... (Below threshold)
yo:

It's not like Obama really had to campaign for his Senate seat.

The IL GOP horked up Alan Keyes as opposition, for goodness' sake.

Obama would be nothing had Ditka run.

Jay..You have just made a c... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay..You have just made a case for some of the Democrats. Nothing is more tedious than hearing self-serving politicians drone on about their accomplishments. We call all read about what they actually did from less biased sources, and further 'self-praise is no praise'.

Did JFK continously talk about what he had done as a senator in Massachusettes, or Ronald Reagan as a governor in California when they were on the campaign trail for president? I don't think they did. What we want to hear from them, is what they hope to do in the future, and how that will resonate with Americans.

sean nyc/aa - "You do r... (Below threshold)
marc:

sean nyc/aa - "You do realize he was a first-term senator in the minority, how much do you think could really accomplish and how much attention did you expect him to receive?"

Ummm... how about one hell of a lot less "NV's," as in No votes?

Steve, what I was trying to... (Below threshold)

Steve, what I was trying to say was that the Democrats say "this is what I will do." The Republicans say "this is what I will do, and this is what I've done in the past that helps prove I can do what I say I will."

J.

And I'm not quite certai... (Below threshold)

And I'm not quite certain what it all means, but it strikes me as somehow relevant that the clear majority of the frontrunning candidates on one side have a history of accomplishments, while the others only have a list of promises and ideas.

True, but hey, when you get copious numbers of MSM mulligans you don't need accomplishments, now do you?

Jay, does that mean Giulian... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Jay, does that mean Giuliani will lie when he takes his vow to up-hold the constitution like he did when he took his marriage vows?

I guess we can count on Huckabee to ignoring important foreign intelligence data for a day or two like he did on the Iran NIE?

Maybe we can trust Romney to do as he says instead of flip flopping to pander to one group of constituents over another?

I love the way republican do as they do and not as they say.

On the flip side, Barney, w... (Below threshold)

On the flip side, Barney, we have Hillary Clinton saying is experienced -- despite never having held a security clearance while in the White House, and touting her adventures into danger a trip where she took along Sheryl Crowe, Sinbad, and Chelsea.

We have Barack Obama, who within a few days said that he would never use nuclear weapons under any circumstances -- and then said that he'd strongly consider invading Pakistan, a nuclear power.

We have John Edwards, who parlayed a fortune won ambulance-chasing and killing the OB-GYN field in his home state into a single, failed term as senator and a failed attempt to be vice-president.

Both sides have their negatives, Barney. What you fail to grasp (well, in this case -- a list of things you fail to grasp would be legion) is that you don't vote for the best person, but the best person who's running.

Funny how you never seem to offer your own solutions, or defend something. Your whole schtick is based on attacking, on criticizing, on slamming, on "going negative."

Good lord, you're a putz. Don't you ever get tired of it?

J.

Jay, Obama is drawing big c... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay, Obama is drawing big crowds from everywhere.That's a big accomplishment and he does the talk and the walk around too.

I thought Bill Richardson w... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

I thought Bill Richardson was the best Democratic candidate in terms of experience and accomplishments and thought he was going to be the adult of the campaign ( despite being a procurer after the fact for his part of the attempt to coverup Bill Clinton's bimbo ). But I was wrong. Bill Richardson has for some reason been acting as much the adolescent as the rest of the Democratic candidates - Not to mention some really stupid gaffes like saying he would negotiate with the Soviet Union - and it is very disappointing.

Jay Tea, it is not that Bar... (Below threshold)
SPQR:

Jay Tea, it is not that Barney is always so negative, it is that he finds a way each and every time to demonstrate just how clueless he is upon each topic on which he opines.

That's an accomplishment.

Steve, Paris Hilton draws c... (Below threshold)

Steve, Paris Hilton draws crowds. Jerry Springer got fantastic ratings. Look at the current crop of "celebrities."

Simply drawing crowds is not an accomplishment. "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American people."

J.

and then said that he'd ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

and then said that he'd strongly consider invading Pakistan, a nuclear power.

Doesn't sound so nutty now that Bush is saying it, does it?

That's a shame, I was hopin... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

That's a shame, I was hoping to see you outside, but many of your townspeople seemed willing 'freeze their socks' off waiting to get into a packed hall on a cold winter day. That's star power and yes, I don't underestimate the power of entertainers on politics, but Obama is a constitutional law professor.

Funny you omit the part abo... (Below threshold)

Funny you omit the part about first foreswearing the use of nuclear weapons, Brian.

"I will never ever use nuclear weapons, but I WILL invade a country that does have them!"

Also, your own article has a bit in it that doesn't help your argument:

In Pakistan, speculation has intensified for weeks that the Bush administration would act unilaterally in the northwestern frontier to counter al-Qaeda's growing presence.

Some U.S. military sources said that such public speculation, while unfounded, nevertheless serves to lessen the political cost of any U.S. actions.

Not quite the same as Obama openly saying he'll invade Pakistan unilaterally, is it?

J.

Steve: "Obama is a... (Below threshold)

Steve:

"Obama is a constitutional law professor."

So wasn't Bill Clinton, as I recall.

People aren't going to see Obama because of what he's done, but who he is. You wrote a little while ago about his state legislative record, and others have cited a bit of his Senate record, and that's not too bad, but I've NEVER heard of him doing anything like Romney and the Olympics, or Giuliani and turning around New York City, or McCain's POW leadership and commanding a squadron of pilots in the Navy.

He's proving to be a great senator? Fine. Let's leave him there to continue his good work.

J.

I hope he pushed business ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

I hope he pushed business up a little in Lebanon today, at any rate, and don't forget to vote tomorrow.

"I will never ever use n... (Below threshold)
Brian:

"I will never ever use nuclear weapons, but I WILL invade a country that does have them!"

Ha! If I were marc, I'd challenge you to produce that quote, and then run away all giddy that you can't.

But since I actually have some functional skills, I'll just note your creative insertions of "never ever" and "will invade".

Besides, "I MAY use nuclear weapons, and I WILL invade a country that does have them!", which is now Bush's position, isn't any more comforting.

So I'm guessing that doing ... (Below threshold)
LenS:

So I'm guessing that doing nothing and waiting for Pakistan to use their nuclear weapons on our cities is the rational Democrat policy now. Wow, that's so much more comforting.

Watching Democrats (and Ron Paul) sometimes almost convinces me that Osama was correct to not fear us. But then I look at our military and I know that Osama's still a fool.

Jay TeaWere there ... (Below threshold)
bernardkeric:

Jay Tea

Were there a cholera pandemic in the US, there is not one Repukelican candidate who would even be qualified to be the National Bedpan.

but Obama is a consti... (Below threshold)

but Obama is a constitutional law professor.

ROTFL!!!!

Then let him serve Clarence Thomas tea!

This has been strikingly ob... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

This has been strikingly obvious for some time now. Take any (serious) Republican candidate and pit them against whoever the Dems have and the republican has more experience hands down. Richardson has experience, but not the right kind (as far as democrats are concerned). What a democrat needs in order to pull away from the pack is a sex scandal. It seriously is a resume enhancement for a democrat. Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, Gavin Newsom etc.. I'm sure there are other people that can come up with more, but it seriously means more to democrat voters than actual issues.

Notice how the real debates about ideas are happening on the right? Notice how it's kindergarten bickering over who said what on the left?

Why do you lump Fred Thomps... (Below threshold)
Bob:

Why do you lump Fred Thompson in with the Democrats? I'm no Fan of Fred, but at least he's not on the same side as Hill, BO, Bill Richardson, et al. He, like the other Republican candidates, has accomplished success in and out of gov't.

Just want to add one little... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica ImmigrantL:

Just want to add one little point to Jay 's observation. The democrats simply cannot be honest about what they want to do. This motto seems to sum up nicely what liberal democrats want to do: "kill babies, not terrorists". Since the liberal dems cannot be honest about what they want to do, they have to spin and distract to cover up their lack of substance.

Bob, I must have missed the... (Below threshold)
Greg:

Bob, I must have missed the Fred comment, since I cannot find it. As the only true conservative I would hope Jay wouldn;t get on his case, unlike the Pretty Pony and today the "I tried to choke tears I didn't have" small H.
as foir the rest of his comments, dead on.

Jay, you nailed it. Accomp... (Below threshold)
Mitchell:

Jay, you nailed it. Accomplishment vs. Talk.

If you count riding in steerage with your hubby's entourage on plane trips to foreign countries as "accomplishment," then you missed it.

For the left, choosing a le... (Below threshold)

For the left, choosing a leader isn't about effectiveness, it's about feelings. They want someone who can make the mushy middle voters feel all warm and fuzzy and not ask too many questions. This is why they respect the empty rhetoric of "change" over the concrete experience of accomplishment.

"Change" is one of rhetoric's "God terms," like "progress." It means whatever the listener wants it to mean. The reality is that it means almost nothing: "change" occurs every single day, whether we want it to or not.

Brian - "Ha! If I were ... (Below threshold)
marc:

Brian - "Ha! If I were marc, I'd challenge you to produce that quote, and then run away all giddy that you can't."

First of all if you were me Brian you wouldn't be caught on so many occasions commenting out of your backside.

Secondly, Get ready... get set... GO GIDDY!

Ummm... how about one he... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

Ummm... how about one hell of a lot less "NV's," as in No votes?
marc

Except for 4/18/2005, 6/9/2005, 5/7/2007, 6/12/2007 and 6/11/2007 (which was the Alberto Gonzalez no confidence vote that conservatives decried having in the first place, so you should agree with his no vote there), Barack did not start frequently missing votes until 7/19/2007, likely when he started campaigning for president. If that's the case, we should compare his record to McCain and Clinton. All their records show they have missed a significant number of votes since early summer (Clinton actually appears to have missed the fewest). So that means his behavior is pretty much normal when you consider the fact he's running for president. I think his constituents would understand that even if you seem to be having trouble with it.

I will never ever use nuclear weapons, but I WILL invade a country that does have them!
Jay Tea

One, I took the "I will not use nuclear weapons under any circumstance ... involving civilians" to mean that he would not use them pre-emptively or to strike obscure targets in the Afghan/Pakistani mountains. This all changes if there were nuclear detonation from a terrorist or rogue state (MAD after all). I happen to agree with him wholeheartedly in this respect.

Two, I don't remember Obama ever saying he would "invade" Pakistan, ie 100,000+ troops entering the country in formation. He did say he might conduct limited airstrikes/targeted special ops missions if we had reliable, actionable intelligence without Musharraf's OK, ie unilaterally. That doesn't sound too much different than this quote "speculation has intensified for weeks that the Bush administration would act unilaterally in the northwestern frontier to counter al-Qaeda's growing presence."

Sean nyc/aa - "Barack d... (Below threshold)
marc:

Sean nyc/aa - "Barack did not start frequently missing votes until 7/19/2007, likely when he started campaigning for president. If that's the case, we should compare his record to McCain and Clinton."

OK, they all have records that SUCK with a plethora of missed votes. I could have told you that without looking or having you point it out.

20 years ago, hell maybe 10 years ago, it may have been a fairly agreeable excuse. Not now with electronic communications the way they are.




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